UK’s first Chick-fil-A closes one week after opening due to public outrage over LGBT issues
US food chain giant, Chick-fil-A opened its first branch in the UK on October 10. The restaurant which opened its doors in a shopping centre in Reading, faced immediate backlash from LGBT campaigners who called for a boycott.
Reading Pride organised protests outside the restaurant, claiming that the company’s “ethos and moral stance goes completely against our values, and that of the UK as we are a progressive country that has legalised same-sex marriage for some years and continues to strive towards equality”.
The outrage was focused on the Christian owners of Chick-fil-A donating money to various organisations that were known for being extremely anti-LGBT. One example is Exodus International, who offered ‘conversion therapy' before closing in 2013. Exodus International did eventually apologise to the gay community, saying it had imposed “years of undue judgment by the organisation and the Christian church as a whole”. Another organisation supported by the food chain includes The Fellowship of Christian Athletes. They oppose same-sex marriage.
Chief executive of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, has previously spoken out about the donations in 2012, saying: “We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that … We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families.”
Eight days after opening, the Oracle shopping mall revealed that it would not be extending the restaurant’s initial six-month trial period.
Reading Pride responded by ensuring the protests would not stop until the restaurant was permanently closed.
The chain is no stranger to controversy. Only last year Rider University in the US denied Chick-fil-A an outlet on campus despite pressure from students. They said the company was “widely perceived to be in opposition to the LGBTQ+ community”.
Last month a lawsuit was filed over San Antonio’s refusal to offer Chick-fil-A an outlet. A few citizens demanded an injunction should be brought against the airport to prevent it from taking action “based wholly or partly on that person or entity’s support for religious organisations that oppose homosexual behaviour”.